rev walter richardson_webjpg.jpgOnce more a remnant of the house of Judah will take root below and bear fruit above. – 2 Kings 19:30.  I watched over the last few days my grandchildren get excited about returning to school from their summer vacation.

I was especially impressed with the little ones who are in kindergarten, along with those in the first few years of their elementary education.

It was impressed upon them that school is important and that learning all they can hold on to will make them better people.  I know you are asking, “Just how many grandchildren do you have?” Well, my wife and I have 12 and all of them have been influenced by the education of their parents and their grandparents.

I am acutely aware that these grandchildren are at their most impressionable ages and the power of influence has never been greater. The seeds of influence take root quickly and grow deeply. You see, influence is the ability of a person to persuade others to think, feel or behave in a specific manner.

Acclaimed author Tony Zuniga wrote an article in July 2011 in which he stated that, in the ’50s, the top influences in a child’s life were, first, parents, then church, followed by school, friends, and then television. About 60 years later, that list of influences, according to Zuniga, has been rearranged.

It’s now friends, first, then television, then parents, followed by school and then church … in dead last place. Wow! One person quipped when reading this list of influences that people are impressed and influenced by what or who they spend the most time with.

Poetically, prophetically and practically, the Hebrew Scriptures teach us in the above account of the Kings that whatever is rooted downward will bring forth fruit of its kind upward, that there must be this active seeding and rooting in order that a fruitful harvest may ensue. The seeding and rooting process is sometimes painstakingly slow, tedious and difficult but the rewards are justifiable and gratifying.

The people of God were reminded by the prophet of God that their most difficult days would be followed by their most glorious days. They were being instructed by their spiritual leader that, once they had endured hardness and suffered tragedy and trouble, they were not to live their lives on the residue of their former experiences but they were to sow new seeds, plant new trees and expect new harvest.

The promise of production is the cry every child of God should heed. For when one fight is over, one struggle is overcome, one difficulty is diffused, God counters with bountiful blessings. The promise of production and “going through” for Him gives us a new boldness to anticipate recovery, rebounding and replenishing. 

Every time we experience the joys and riches of productive lives, like good morals, good manners, good neighbors, respect for the elderly, hospitality to the stranger, courtesy in the public place, honesty in government, it is a direct result of proper planting and nurtured rooting. It’s the power of influence.

Dr. John Geddie, a missionary, went to Aneiteum, an island in Vanuatu in 1848 and worked there for God for 24 years among the most unsophisticated, barbarous people in the world.

On the tablet erected to his memory these words are inscribed: “When he landed, in 1848, there were no Christians. When he left, in 1872, there were no heathens.”

Wouldn’t it be wonderful when we will have passed this way that we will have influenced a generation of young people, some not so promising, that it would be difficult in the future to find greed, dishonesty, racism, ignorance and strife among their ranks? Well, if we plant properly, and root passionately, good and godly fruit is guaranteed.

*Walter T. Richardson is pastor-emeritus of Sweet Home Missionary Baptist Church in South Miami-Dade County and chairman of the Miami-Dade Community Relations Board. He may be contacted at Website: